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Reader Writer Runner (Victoria, BC)

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Damage Control: How to Tiptoe Away from the Smoking Wreckage of your Latest Screw-Up with a Minimum of Harm to Your Reputation
Damage Control: How to Tiptoe Away from the Smoking Wreckage of your Latest Screw-Up with a Minimum of Harm to Your Reputation
by David Eddie
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.71
19 used & new from CDN$ 9.98

4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Dec 29 2013
Those who regularly read David Eddie's column, "Damage Control," in The Globe and Mail will doubtlessly recognize the author's wit and candour in his new book by the same name. Unfortunately, they may find the book too familiar as it basically reads like a compilation of highlights from the column with biographical information interspersed.

Regardless, Eddie writes with a big heart and takes astonishing risks when offering advice. With honesty and wisdom, he offers a smorgasbord of resolutions to sticky problems relating to relationships, careers and marriage. A fun and high-quality social reference from a thoughtfully irreverent, learned father of three.

Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction's Most Beloved Heroines by Hahn. Samantha Published by Chronicle Books (2013) Hardcover
Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction's Most Beloved Heroines by Hahn. Samantha Published by Chronicle Books (2013) Hardcover
by Hahn. Samantha
Edition: Hardcover
6 used & new from CDN$ 21.76

4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Dec 29 2013
"Well-Read Women" compiles Samantha Hahn's stunning water colours of various female literary characters. A handwritten quote accompanies each portrait, expressing the words of famous women from Lizzie ("Pride and Prejudice") to Miss Havisham ("Great Expectations") to Charlotte ("Charlotte's Web"). Though a few of these quotes border on cliche, the majority inspire beauty and curiosity, making readers want to learn the story behind each character.

A fantastic gift for those hard-to-buy-for bookworms!

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital
Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital
by Sheri Fink
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.06
36 used & new from CDN$ 12.81

5.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Dec 23 2013
With sophistication, meticulous detail and apparent effortlessness, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Sheri Fink has written a harrowing account of the events that unfolded at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina.

Considering the calamitous, lethal circumstances, the tireless staff at Memorial certainly did a remarkable job of saving many lives in the wake of a horrendous storm. But the hospital's policies and procedures sparked national controversy over class and race discrimination in medicine, end-of-life care, medical rationing and euthanasia. "Five Days at Memorial" provides stunningly framed vignettes of specific events as well as sharp profiles of many of the key characters. Fink gives consideration to explosive issues in such a manner that readers can fully fashion their own opinions.

A blend of drama and philosophy, the book poses difficult questions for the medical field: when do normal standards no longer apply? what if doing something seems right but doesn’t feel right? In the ensuing investigation of one doctor, Fink circles all the players, successfully giving much-needed perspective to their views. Ultimately, the usual suspects become the greatest villains: nature, for creating Katrina in the first place, Memorial owner Tenet Healthcare, for failing to act, and government, for its incompetence that led to dozens of deaths.

B Is for Bulldozer: A Construction Abc
B Is for Bulldozer: A Construction Abc
by June Sobel
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 7.95
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Story Time Again..., Dec 13 2013
Presented in verse, this construction-lover's ABC book incorporates the consecutive letters of the alphabet into text about a new building project. It begins, “Do you see the Asphalt for paving the road, or the big shiny Bulldozer pushing a load?” But what are the hard workers building?

Throughout the seasons of one year, families and pets watch the complex process of constructing an amusement park. Sobel's alphabet includes all the glamourous heavy machinery one would expect but also the less dramatic essentials like nails and pipes. She also includes both male and female multi-ethnic workers. When opening day arrives, those who have waited patiently behind safety fences can finally enjoy the fun final product.

Iwai’s two-page spreads in creamy oils reveal her talent for painting people, vehicles and the changing seasons. From Asphalt to Zoom, this first-rate book will delight two and six year olds alike.

That's Not My Duck
That's Not My Duck
by Fiona Watt
Edition: Board book
Price: CDN$ 10.76
12 used & new from CDN$ 2.81

5.0 out of 5 stars Story Time Again..., Dec 4 2013
This review is from: That's Not My Duck (Board book)
Fiona Watt's latest addition to her lovely "That's not my..." series may soon become one of my favourites. It's extra-bold colour scheme and unique patches/textures make it stand out; from soft wings to bumpy feet and smooth eggs, little ones will enjoy touching every page.

These short, five page books may be best suited to very young children but my three-year-old now loves "reading" them to ME and pointing out the trademark mouse throughout.

The Great Canadian Bucket List: One-of-a-Kind Travel Experiences
The Great Canadian Bucket List: One-of-a-Kind Travel Experiences
by Robin Esrock
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.43
19 used & new from CDN$ 14.43

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Dec 3 2013
The "bucket list book" has become a cliche; hundreds of travel guides line bookstore shelves, all highlighting amazing must-see places before you die. Certainly, they feature awe-inspiring destinations but few convey a true sense of place. "The Great Canadian Bucket List," on the other hand, boasts an author who has personally visited 105 of the 115 items on his list. And Robin Esrock doesn't write like he works in the tourism industry; he tells it like it is. Yes, Niagara Falls teems with tackiness and screaming kids but the spectacular scenery more than makes up for it.

The Vancouver-based travel writer has explored over 100 countries on six continents and recognizes that Canadians take their country for granted. Many look to Europe and Asia without first discovering their own back yards. Esrock doesn't gloss over the fact that many of his bucket list items involve time and expense, such as seeing the northern lights. However, he also includes seemingly ordinary experiences that actually create lifelong memories: eating smoked meat in Montreal or strolling the Stanley Park seawall.

So where to begin? Any Canadian can start a fantastic journey close to home and Esrock's book can provide inspiration to take the first step.

Born Weird
Born Weird
by Andrew Kaufman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.57
8 used & new from CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Dec 1 2013
This review is from: Born Weird (Paperback)
On the occasion of his/her birth, each of five siblings with the surname Weird received a "blursing," an ostensible blessing that turns into a curse. The blursings bestowed by the Weird grandmother grant particular capabilities: Lucy never gets lost, Abba never loses hope, Richard always eschews harm, Kent defends himself from threats and Angie always forgives.

As "Born Weird" begins, the grandmother summons Angie to her hospital room in Vancouver and orders her to gather her brothers and sisters and return on the day she has predicted she will die. If Angie completes the task, "the Shark" promises to remove all the blur sings. Although sceptical, Angie accepts the mission and travels across Canada, then to the fictional country of Upliffta with a final stop at the family home in Toronto.

Andrew Kaufman explores the chaos of emotions through the blursings, which serve as double-edged swords. Angie, for example, always forgives, but never stops to examine the causes of her hurt; Abba’s hope for the future prevents her from fully living in the present; and Lucy believes that love equals loss so seeks out only casual sexual encounters. Flashbacks to the siblings’ childhood suggest the blursings intensified after their father’s disappearance. When their mother withdraws from reality altogether, the adolescent Weirds must take care of themselves.

Kaufman packs a lot into his narrative; specific flight numbers, dates, and spans of time suggest deeper meaning and require time and attention to appreciate. Because of both the attention devoted to codes and puzzles and the overuse of platitudes, the novel sometimes feels shallow. The ultimate removal of each blursing becomes meaningless after repeated life lessons from the Shark and the Weird mother. However, the Weirds certainly produce an enjoyable read and Kaufman showcases his talent for snappy dialogue. The book concludes tidily, though perhaps too tidily for a family whose motto is "truth isn't fair."

by Mary Roach
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 17.87
32 used & new from CDN$ 10.09

4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Nov. 30 2013
This review is from: Gulp (Hardcover)
In "Gulp," esteemed science writer Mary Roach takes readers down the gastrointestinal tract, illuminating a taboo topic with wit and fascinating information.

Roach begins by describing the subtle yet complex role the nose plays in taste and then goes on to discuss why humans have trouble finding names for flavors and smells. She details the process of pet food manufacturing and chronicles her visit to an oral processing lab. She candidly chronicles her interview with a prisoner who patiently explained the intimate details of utilizing the alimentary canal for illegal purposes.

The book certainly doesn't shy away from the "ick factor" as it grapples with the history of flatulence and adeptly describes the torment caused by Elvis Presley’s megacolon. Roach even fleshes out just what constitutes the “ick factor” in the first place. Whether writing about expectoration, lateral tongue protrusion or "rectal consumption," Roach consistently entertains the reader with her incredible journey into the human body.

Tenth of December: Stories
Tenth of December: Stories
by George Saunders
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.77
44 used & new from CDN$ 1.73

4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Nov. 28 2013
Satiric and ironic yet compassionate and free from sarcasm, George Saunders uniquely captures the fragmented, absurd realities of 21st century life. In prose that vividly mimics thought, he mocks bureaucracy, technology and materialism without creating contemptuous characters.

“Tenth of December,” Saunders's bold and moving fourth collection, opens with the story of a young teen pondering the "special one" in her future. A guileless romantic, her life turns upside-down after seeing a neighbouring classmate jog past her kitchen window. In a later dystopian fable, an experiment takes a dark turn after a young inmate is dosed with elixirs intended to cause lust, eloquence and despair.

The disturbing, anti-consumerist “The Semplica Girl Diaries” begins as the narrator plans to write a page a day for the kids and grandkids. He feels demoralized because his two daughters pine for the material possessions their classmates have, including Semplica Girls, women who escape human trafficking by literally serving as lawn ornaments for wealthy Americans. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the title story, beautifully and precisely constructed, features a pale boy on a heroic mission who ultimately finds himself rescued and a terminally ill cancer patient who rediscovers the preciousness of life.

Saunders fills his morally acute new collection with illumination, even when writing about violence and suicide. He depicts the human realm with stark realism and constantly presents situations which leave the reader wondering: what would I do?

Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home
Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home
by Julie Carlson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 30.06
38 used & new from CDN$ 18.69

5.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Nov. 25 2013
As William Morris famously advised, "have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” The Remodelista website and now the book by the same name adhere to this principle, presenting simple, clean and timeless decorating ideas. "Remodelista" proves that minimal does not mean sterile; rather, eliminating clutter allows your favourite pieces to shine in a cozy atmosphere.

This large book contains gorgeous images of welcoming spaces. It explores twelve unique homes from places such as Brooklyn, Massachusetts, Los Angeles, and London. The homeowners share their own decorating stories, then the Remodelista team shows how you can achieve a similar look in your own home, oftentimes for less than the homeowners themselves paid. The book also breaks down houses room by room and shares examples inspirational and innovative decor.

"Remodelista" teaches us that “classic and livable trumps trendy and transient.” and that “clutter is the enemy”. True words from a creative, considerate team!

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